Health Advocate Blog

Six Common Holiday Hazards (and How to Avoid Them)

The holidays are often characterized as a time full of good cheer with many social gatherings, festively-decorated trees and homes, and radios blasting all your favorite Christmas songs. But did you know that the holidays are also one of the most dangerous times of the year when it comes to household accidents and injuries? Now’s the time to be aware of holiday hazards so that you can reduce your risk of ER visits, unexpected medical bills and property damage disrupting your festivities.
  • Dangerous Christmas lights. Be sure to check your Christmas lights for frayed and loose connections that could spark and cause a fire. Also make sure you don’t use an indoor extension cord for outdoor lighting since they are not fireproof and could present a fire hazard in wet climates.
  • Careless holiday decorating. According to data from the U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission, more than 13,000 people per year are treated in emergency rooms due to injuries related to holiday decorating. If you are using ladders and tools when decorating, use caution and common sense to avoid falls, cuts and contusions.
  • Candle fires. Seasonal-scented candles can add ambience to your home, but be careful where you place them. To avoid fires, keep candles away from flammable materials such as wrapping paper or trees, and remember to blow the candles out when you aren’t in the room with them. For a safer alternative to lit candles, use flameless candles, especially around young children or pets.
  • Poisonous plants. You’ll want to keep mistletoe, holly berries, and Christmas cacti (all are poisonous if swallowed) out of harm’s way from children and pets.
  • Risky winter sports activities. Everyone wants a white Christmas so that they can bring out the skis and sleds. But with over 35,000 sledding accidents and 165,000 skiing accidents happening every year, be careful where you go sledding and skiing. Be extra cautious if you’re skiing or sledding on hills that have a lot of trees. And no matter where you ski or sled, remember to wear a helmet for safety and protection.
  • Treacherous tree fires. Each year, holiday-related fires kill over 400 Americans and cause more than $900 million in property damage. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Christmas trees are often the first things that get ignited. If you have a natural tree in your house, make sure that you keep it watered (dry trees ignite more easily) and that you keep it away from heat sources like fireplaces. If you are using an artificial tree, make certain it has a tag on it that says it’s “fire resistant.”
Remember, most holiday mishaps are caused by careless mistakes that happen when we are on overload from all of the stress and frenetic activities. Although it can be a challenge during this fast-paced time, make sure to a little time for yourself—having a few stress-free moments of relaxation can help you focus better during the holidays. But just in case you do fall victim to an accident over the holidays, remember that Health Advocate is here to help you locate doctors, untangle medical bills, and more.